Fiona Apple and Franz Ferdinand, Epic’s pair of impossibly hip PoMo stars/critics’ darlings, came out of the box practically neck and neck.


A Crowded Field of New Releases Also Includes Sara Evans, Twista, Fiona Apple, Franz Ferdinand and Melissa Etheridge
Nickelback, Roadrunner’s southern rock sensation (from the southern part of Canada, that is), is a lock for next week’s #1, as the band churns to a debut in the province of 250k-260k (meaning they should hit a number quite near the 255k tallied by this week’s chart champ, Gretchen Wilson). So it appears that meat-and-potatoes rock & roll, minus the outfits and the haircuts, still has a substantial following.

And so, of course, does mainstream country, as red-hot RLG launches another youngter into orbit in the comely form of Sara Evans, whose likely total of 125k-130k will give her the second biggest bow and just may be enough for #2 on the chart.

Hip-hop is represented among the 10/4 releases by Atlantic’s Twista, who has 100k in his sights. Just behind the fast-talking rapper are Fiona Apple and Franz Ferdinand, Epic’s pair of impossibly hip PoMo stars/critics’ darlings. They came out of the box practically neck and neck, with Fiona maybe a hair in front, as she trends 80k-85k, while the stylish Scots are looking 75k-80k-ish.

The week’s wild card is a hits package from Island/IDJ’s Melissa Etheridge (including a new cover of Tom Petty’s “Refugee”), whose present trend of 60k-70k could balloon following her imminent Oprah appearance. And as we’ve learned, when Oprah devotes an entire show to a musical artist, all bets are off.

Commingling in the 50k-60k sector are another pair of Atlantic acts—rockers Shinedown (who could get to 65k) and rapper Trina, plus Gospel artist Kirk Franklin (Fo Yo Soul/ZLG).

In the week just ended, the music biz performed decently, relatively speaking, racking up total sales of 10.2 million units, an increase of 4.5%, or 447k, over last week. When we dolly back, however, the picture is less positive. The week’s number is 4.6%, or 498k pieces, less than the comparable week of 2004. What’s more, the year-to-date total of 414.7million units, represents a 10.4% deficit versus a year ago. That means consumers have bought 48.2 million fewer albums than they did from January through September of 2004.